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Full text of "An address delivered on request of the concregation [sic] : at the place of worship of the Hebrew Association, Temimi Derech, at New Orleans, on Saturday, April 29th, 1865"

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14 7 Fultox Street. 


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Members of the Congregation Temimi Derech, Brethren in Faith : 

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Our form of worship permits that on the Sabbath 
Day, in addition to our stated prayers and services, we 
may give attention to important events affecting the 
community of which we form part. 

Our sages of blessed memory, well informed of human 
nature, knew that on all occasions the prayers of the 
pious do moderate joy and do assuage grief, and that 
the greatest rejoicings, as well as the most poignant 
sorrows, should be submitted to in thankfulness before 
our God's throne of mercy. 

Alas ! that we should have occasion for an addition 
to our services to deplore the untimely loss, by violence, 
of the Chief Magistrate of the American people. Alas ! 
that we should have to pray to God that in the history 
of the American people this may be forever the only 
time when national mourning shall be accompanied by 
national humiliation and national shame. Death is the 
inevitable termination of life, and cannot be avoided, 
but to the survivors the manner of death becomes either 
a source of mournful satisfaction or acute regret. Un- 
happily that in the present instance every bosom heaves 
with natural indignation that Abraham Lincoln, the 
Chief Citizen of the Republic, endeavoring to maintain 
the peace of the land, implicitly trusting to the guaran- 
tees of life otfforded by the very laws which it was his 


sworri duty to execute, and in the peace of God then 
there being, should have fallen a victim to the most 
atrocious crime known to the civilized world. 

Abraham Lincoln was a type, a representative of the 
American people ; a kind husband, an indulgent father ; 
one of the masses, he ascended the ladder of laudable 
ambition, which, under our benign system of govern- 
ment, is open alike to all, solely by force of his own 
native intelligence, industry, and, above all, his purity 
of character. He was chosen a Legislator, a Senator, 
and, finally, the Chief Magistrate of the Republic. 
Unaided by worldly fortune or powerful friends, he 
attained to the fame of the most eminent patriots and 
statesmen — aye, even of Washington, the Father of 
his Country. You can point him out to your children 
as one of the men worthy of emulation, as a pattern and 
as an example. He was favored of God according to 
the Talmudic doctrine : u Kol Sheruach Habrijoth nocho 
Jieimenu, Buach Hamokom nocho heimenu" — that he 
who enjoys the good will of men, upon him rests the 
good will of God. And we, as Jews, had a distinct 
ground to love, respect and esteem him. I know that 
he, in his high position, appreciated those of our creed 
who had come forward to sustain him. His mind was 
not subject to the vulgar clamor against Jews, and when, 
undoubtedly without due reflection and in a moment of 
excitement produced by malevolent reports, an order 
wasi made to banish Jews as a class from a particular 
Department, and their immediate and indiscriminate de- 
parture was being carried out, our deceased President at 
one 3 revoked an unauthorized command so harsh and as 
conlemnable in civilized history, as the sad fate of him. 
whose loss we are now deploring. 

The life of Abraham Lincoln is, however, so com- 


pletely identified with history, his individuality has be- 
come so merged with the public life, that I cannot well 
discharge my duty without bringing a few years of our 
national annals briefly before you. 

There are as yet many persons who do not fully un- 
derstand this history. 

Under a political system of self-government, of mo- 
deration and improvement, which even a Fenelon could 
not have helped to admire, the United States, and the 
States composing the Union, advanced to a degree of 
national splendor, hardly equaled by any ancient Ee- 
public or Empire. 

The just and equal* operation of our laws not only 
develops the remarkable intellectual and industrial 
minds of American born, but attracts towards us the 
man of liberal education, the intelligent mechanic, the 
honest and hardy laborer from abroad. Here all found 
protection to the person ; industry untrammeled by 
odious taxes ; free thought, free speech, and, above all, 
complete civil and religious liberty. Teeming with em- 
ployment was the land, for there is not an earthly bless- 
ing but what Grod has bestowed upon this country. It 
produces within itself all the riches of the animal, 
vegetable and mineral domains which are found dis- 
persed among other continents. Internal commerce is 
carried on upon natural water courses thousands of 
miles in uninterrupted length, and upon inland seas of 
unequaled extent, not vexed by the arbitrary exactions 
of rival sovereigns commanding the neighboring shores. 
The sails of our commercial navy whitened every ocean. 
Whilst abroad the American citizen could proudly rely 
that the respect conceded to the peaceful American flag 
was his sole and most complete protection, so at home, 
subject only to obedience to law, every man " could sit 


down under the shade of his own vine and fig tree and 
there was none to make him afraid." 

Most, if not all of us, my hearers, were attracted 
hither to forget the land of our nativity and the homes 
of our forefathers, to participate gratefully in this 
national prosperity and happiness. The United States 
attained this eminence by strict adherence to the laws 
framed by the people and executed by the men, the 
choice of the people. There was no apprehension that 
those to whom the people had entrusted their welfare, 
would be opposed or obstructed in their proper func- 
tions. It was the great boast of Americans that they 
were law-abiding citizens. Armed political revulsion 
was as unthought of, and as unprovided for, as the 
crime of paricide was in ancient Sparta. 

In the midst of this prosperty there were men who 
had become satiated by success, and whose ambitious 
cravings could not endure the limits set to their power 
by the Constitution and the laws, in the making of 
which they themselves had shared. Systematic efforts 
were made to impress the public mind with the untrue 
proposition that the unlimited extent of domestic slavery 
was necessary to the ultimate happiness of the American 
people. Whilst on the one side Franklin, and philan- 
throjpists since his day, had labored to establish in our 
land the maxim, " Orbe Respublicae qui sunt, cives Res- 
pubticae effecti sunt/' that all who live within the Re- 
public are in fact citizens of the Republic, on the other 
hand those who are now false to their oaths and to their 
allegiance, endeavored to bring us back to the darkness 
of ;he sixteenth century, when it was claimed that the 
doriinant white race, by divine prerogative, had the un- 
limited power of life and death over all other human 
racis. Designing politician's succeeded in creating in a 


part of the Union false apprehensions of insecurity to 
life and property. Factious dissatisfaction with exist- 
ing institutions was produced, and so forgetful were the 
agitators of what was due to the spirit of the age in 
which we live, that the State of Georgia, in the early 
part of 1861, adopted in its fundamental law a provi- 
sion which did not guarantee absolute liberty of religion, 
but provided for a dominant creed, with a promise of 
tolerance to the dissenters. 

Were the people in need of any such progress ? 

My hearers : — In due course of events, and at the time 
appointed by the organic law of the Union, #11 the States 
proceeded to cast their electoral votes with the result 
which made Abraham Lincoln from a person of local 
repute to be the President of the United States. He 
was at once brought before the world upon an eminence 
which, in the present century, has only been accorded to 
the two Emperors of highly civilized France — Napoleon 
I and the present Emperor. 

During the brief period between his election and 
assuming official functions, the malcontents begun war 
upon the friendly and unsuspecting North. Northern 
debts were not protected, Northern property was made 
insecure, Northern men were not permitted to remain 
within Southern limits, and a price was set upon the 
head of every American citizen to be captured on the 
high seas. The possessions of the United States were 
forcibly wrested from them, and all the hallowed memo- 
ries which had justly been national glories were turned 
into ridicule and disgrace. Thus we arrived to the 4th 
of March, 1861. Mr. Lincoln entered upon the duties 
of the highest and most responsible office in the gift of 
the American people. He came before the world and 
said to those who aimed at his life and at the existence 


of the Republic, that his administration would not be 
that of strong bias or aggressive partisanship, but to 
preserve law and order ; that he would conduct the 
Government at home, as well as abroad, for the benefit 
of all, and to the exclusion of none, and he exhorted 
all good and law-abiding citizens to stand by the Con- 
stitution, to preserve the public peace, the public trea- 
sures and public integrity, and by their efforts to help 
him to maintain intact the proud edifice of American 

Whilst the conspirators against the Government 
affected incredulity and sneered at his well-meant words, 
a rallying effect was produced upon all who valued the 
Union. Look back upon the last four years, and in no 
instance did the people refuse to aid Mr. Lincoln in his 
efforts. Was it additional power that he required, it 
was given, because there was the well-justified confi- 
dence that he would not abuse it. Was money wanted, 
it came forth freely, because he would not apply our 
treasure improperly. Were forces to be raised, they 
were had, because we knew him to be incapable of using 
the heroic army and gallant navy otherwise than as 
against the common enemy. Not one of his appeals 
failed to be agreed to. 

Mr. Lincoln had also promised that he would not 
intermeddle in the domestic concerns of the States 
which remained true, or came back to the Union. This 
also has he kept. As against the so-called States out of 
the Union, those persons who were pursuing him and 
us fit the peril of our lives, they retained no constitu- 
tional rights which he was in any way bound to re- 
spect. His Emancipation Proclamations were directed, 
not against States in the Union, but against public 
enenies. It is not my purpose to say much on this sub- 


ject. Discussion upon it is past. We do not now dis- 
cuss the partisan topics of the past century. But we 
do know that the French Revolution, and the wars con- 
sequent thereon on the continent of Europe, did there 
abolish human servitude — servitude to the soil — distinc- 
tions of caste. Wherever the French armies went, their 
device of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, quickened into 
fact. And so with slavery. Wherever the American 
army has been, slavery is extinct and human liberty 
progresses. Such progress once made, the civilization 
of this generation forbids our steps to be retraced. 

It was also Mr. Lincoln's aim to reorganize civil 
government in the States which, by their rebellion, had 
become disintegrated in their political functions. He 
desired civil instead of military government. He wished 
that as soon as possible the people should resume their 
self-government. His humanitarian views respecting 
Louisiana have been but so very recently expressed that 
they need not repetition. He was also desirous that the 
channels of trade and commerce within and without 
should be freely opened, and that the burthens of taxa- 
tion should be lightened. He endeavored to obtain for 
the freedmen an asylum where prejudice of color should 
not impede their advancement in culture and civiliza- 
tion. Assisted by the sage counsel of my friend, the 
venerable William Henry Seward, whom God vouch- 
safed an almost miraculous escape from premeditated 
murder, he had so shaped our relations with foreign 
nations that their inward covetousness durst not break 
out upon us in the additional calamity of a foreign war. 

Mr. Lincoln had thus, in the course of his adminis- 
tration, so gained the esteem of the people, that in 1864 
he was re-elected to his office by an almost unanimous 
vote of the loyal States. Thenceforward, and reassured 



against the false clamor of those who misunderstood the 
popular will, he pursued the even tenor of his way to 
overcome the rebellion by all the legitimate means in 
his power. He was so far successful that the strong- 
holds and the powerful armies of our enemies surren- 
dered to him upon a simple promise, that all who com- 
posed the hostile organization in arms, laying them down 
and returning to their homes and reassuming their 
peaceful avocations, should again be protected by the 
blessed aegis of American law. 

Such a course was the one to be expected from his 
kind and generous nature. Stern and unyielding to the 
defiant public enemy, he was humane and gracious to 
him who repented of his political sin and gave assurance 
of amendment in the future ; for Abraham Lincoln 
from his cradle was an humanitarian in politics. He 
desired and aimed at producing a state of perfect per- 
sonal liberty. To him all men were created in the 
image of God. He felt that though Isaac had given his 
choicest blessings to Jacob, that he had a comforting 
benediction still for Esau. 

_ The public mind was thus preparing to receive from 
him the assurance of peace. No doubt could be made 
of it. He had refrained from entering Richmond as a 
proud conqueror, with Lee the captive in his train as a 
trophjy. He had come and gone from the halls of his 
adversary as a simple citizen, giving daily to the people 
under the signature simply of " A Lincoln/' his tele- 
grams announcing successes as the precursors of peace 
for to him as well to us, " Blessed are the peace- 
makers." Far from us was the thought of his suddenly 
ceasing to live. The man who should have predicted an 
assassination would have been deemed a fit inmate of a 
lunatic asylum. The Jew, schooled to the example of 
Mordecai, who, sitting in the king's gate, informed his 
national enemy, Ahasuerus, of the trailing conspiracy 



against his life, would have pronounced the catastrophe 
to be impossible. 

But, alas ! for the vanity of human expectations. In- 
stead of the joyful tidings of peace, of the cessation of 
bloodshed and sacrifice of human victims, the messen- 
gers of lightning apprise us of a fearful crime which has 
deprived us of our appointed leader. Instead of anti- 
cipated rejoicings there comes upon us an unutterable 
woe. The world has not been shocked by so sacrilegious 
an outrage since the assassination of William of Orange 
the Silent, he, likewise, a laborer for his country's con- 
stitution and for civil and religious liberty. 

Mr. Lincoln, who, as has been aptly remarked to me 
by the worthy President* of this congregation, had shown 
a fortitude and perseverence which had failed the mon- 
archs of Europe during the continental revulsions of 
this century, he who had stood firmly the banner-bearer 
of the Constitution and of the laws, he who had refused 
to listen to intimidation, and with generous confidence 
bad entrusted his well-being to his fellow-citizens, he 
was attacked from behind, shot at as you would shoot at 
a wild beast, killed, murdered in malice and in premedi- 
tation by an American ! 

Heard you the wail which rose from every lip, the 
moaning of every heart ? Saw you the tear in every 
eye, the distress of every countenance ? Beheld you 
how every one of the millions inhabiting this land 
mourn him as a beloved friend ? This is the proud, 
the imperishable monument which Abraham Lincoln, 
by his purity and integrity, has erected for himself in 
the hearts and minds, not only of his countrymen, but 
also wherever Liberty has a worshiper. 



The miserable wretch who, by his unnatural crime, 
has sullied, and tarnished, and blotted the national 
honor, is beneath mortal punishment. He is now 
prowling about, hiding himself from man, the ghost of 
his illustrious victim pursuing him unrelentingly, the 
mark of Cain upon his brow, the fate of Cain his des- 
tiny, his name forever associated with what is most foul 
and hideous in the fearful catalogue of human mis- 
creants. It is reported that upon believing his fell design 
to have been accomplished, the murderer exclaimed, " Sic 
semper tyrannis." This famous and now desecrated phrase 
was to Rome the precursor of the Augustine era — the 
happiest, the most prosperous period of imperial history. 
May the great loss which we have sustained be also 
compensated for by greater happiness and greater pros- 
perity to come to the United States. 

We can but bow in submission to the Divine will. 
We can carry the memory of Abraham Lincoln with 
us as that of a triumphant martyr to humanity, and 
we can also carry into practice the lessons taught us by 
the short but eventful life of the great departed : 

To be true and honest to ourselves and to our 
neighbors ; 

To stand bravely and fearlessly to the performance of 
our duties as citizens of this great Republic ; 

To be prepared for advancing civilization ; not to be 
afraid of coming events, but manfully to meet every 
crisi^ to which we may be subjected ; to do so cheerfully 
and 'with the sole view to restore peace and harmony 
wheje our relations have become disturbed. Then will 
peace dwell in our houses and contentment reign in our 
habitations. Then our brethren and our neighbors will 
say unto us, Peace be with you. Then will we have 
sought to do what is good before the Lord our God. 
God gives strength unto his people. God blesses his 
people with peace. 

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